While the rest of Europe is working to welcome back international travelers this summer, Italy is getting the jump on them: The country’s leaders say they’ll reopen as soon as mid-May.
Following a meeting of the G20 tourism ministers, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi unveiled the country’s plan to restart tourism (and without quarantines) later this month, declaring: “Italy is ready to welcome back the world.” Politico first reported Draghi’s remarks.
It comes just days after the European Union Commission unveiled its proposal that would allow European Union (EU) member countries to ease their travel restrictions in the coming months. The Commission is recommending that member states lift restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers by late June, eventually using a “digital green certificate” that would allow travelers to prove their vaccination status, recovery from COVID-19 or a negative COVID-19 test result.
But Draghi says Italy won’t wait for the EU. And unlike some other countries that plan to open initially only to fellow European travelers, Italian tourism officials explicitly said they plan to welcome back Americans and travelers from the United Kingdom.
“Let us not wait until mid-June for the EU pass,” Draghi said, according to Reuters. “In mid-May tourists can have the Italian pass … so the time has come to book your holidays in Italy,” he added.
While Draghi’s pronouncement was light on details, the EU plans to allow travelers entry if they can prove their full vaccination, have proof of a negative COVID-19 test result, or can show they’ve recently recovered from COVID-19.
Italy is just the latest country in Europe ready to welcome tourists back ahead of schedule. Iceland was the first European country to welcome back international travelers in March. Croatia and Greece followed soon after. France announced last week it will open to tourists starting June 9, and Spain plans to follow a similar timeline.
Read More: Here’s Where Americans Can Travel Now
Want cheap flights to Italy from your home town? Join Thrifty Traveler Premium for just $5.99 a month!
Travel to Italy: What You Need to Know
Italy says they will welcome travelers in mid-May, but exactly what it will take to get in remains unclear.
Draghi says the country will launch an “Italy Pass” until the EU comes out with its own digital vaccine passport system. Exactly what Italy will require – and whether the country will also accept proof of a negative COVID-19 test for entry – is up in the air. Draghi didn’t shed light on those travel restrictions, and details weren’t available on major Italian health and tourism sites.
But it’s clear that Italy is eager to welcome travelers back. The country’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism. And in that regard, Italy is not alone.
Italy was one of the first countries outside of Asia to experience a COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020. Along with much of the rest of Europe, it experienced a third wave of cases earlier this spring. But some of the most severe lockdowns were lifted last month as a sluggish vaccination campaign picked up steam.
After more than a year with its borders shut down, Italy is joining the ranks of European countries getting ready to welcome back travelers.
We still don’t know much about what will be required to get in. But this is another reassuring sign that international travel is coming back.